If you’ve ever moved, you know that the worst part is, without a doubt, the unpacking. And the longer you’ve been established, the more boxes and boxes and unending boxes there are to unpack, sort, and somehow store.
When, a month after our last move, my family and I were still weaving around a towering box maze to get from the kitchen to the living room, we half-joked that we wished the flatbed holding our crate had accidentally tipped it into the Pacific! But it started us thinking: how much of this stuff did we really need?
Surely all these possessions were weighing us down! If nothing else, they were too difficult to store in our small house. We scoured the house, room by room, donating or selling pounds and pounds of furniture, clothes, books, movies, and paraphernalia that we just never used. Then, last December, we finished. Satisfied, we surveyed our belongings. The house wasn’t close to being empty, but nothing remained except things we needed, used often, or particularly liked. Every possession we had kept, we needed.
Or did we?
This winter, my husband and I temporarily relocated to Washington, D.C. We left our house and ?necessary? belongings in Alaska, and moved into a minimally furnished apartment with very basic accessories. On arrival, my heart sank. Could my husband, our toddler daughter, and I all live for four months in this small apartment without the toys, games, books, music, kitchen equipment, supplies, and other things necessary to survive on a day-to-day basis? A simpler life might sound good on paper, but could we actually live that way?
After the initial ?culture shock,? I was astonished to find that not only was it possible to live that way, it was much, much easier to do so. Life with fewer possessions was so liberating! The apartment was neater than our house, because I had fewer toys, books, and papers to pick up. Fewer surfaces and less clutter on the countertop and table meant less time wasted putting things away.
Sure, cutting vegetables for soup took a few minutes longer without a food processor, but then I didn’t have to take out, clean, and put away the processor, either. There was no place to store incoming mail, clean laundry, kiddie toys, or mixing bowls, but that meant I had to deal with them right away, rather than letting everything pile up and get out of hand.
In fact, having fewer things made my life more manageable. I was amazed to discover all the free time it created. I could now spend mornings sightseeing, working out, or going to social events, the grocery store, the park, or the library?and still have those two precious hours during my daughter’s nap time to write or catch up on paperwork.
I have more time to have fun with my family, but paradoxically, I’m also usually caught up on the mundane little things that make a household run smoothly. That means I don’t have to feel guilty about taking time to work on my personal goals that always seemed to get sidetracked before.
The difference is remarkable. It’s as if all those possessions were holding me back from my real potential. Maybe there were so many things to deal with, that I could never really catch up and feel ?done.?
Maybe all the different options were distracting, keeping me from sticking to one task at a time. Maybe I just was too comfortable with all my things, so comfortable that I couldn’t bring myself to really attack my to-do list. Whatever the reason, I’m amazed at how much more I can do without all my possessions weighing me down.
I do know that when we return to our house That’s still full of ?necessities,? it will be another culture shock, only in reverse. But now we know that fewer possessions truly can lead to a more efficient and happier life. And hopefully by applying what we’ve learned here, we will be on our way to a lifestyle That’s simpler?and simply better!